Mariner's Rights


Yeah, but that’s in the section where Articles ARE required… not to mention the fact that the rig is a foreign flag entity (Not West Indies, Mexico, or Canada) that they’re transporting cargo to and from, so that argument (b1) doesn’t work either.


An offshore rig isn’t a port. The boats that operate out of Fourchon are technically on voyages from Louisiana to Louisiana. Thus none of the criteria that would require articles to be signed apply.


THANK YOU!!! I admit, I had a bit of a side agenda on this with some companies doing separate voyage plans for the inbound and outbound transits to make sure they never ran into that “nasty and inconvenient” 600nm 3-watch requirement. :wink: But I think you managed to find the “no-articles” reason there too. Thanks!


Technically their voyages are 0 nm long.


:angry: Ok… I take my thank you back now. LOL


A voyage is measured from port to port, excluding any stops at offshore facilities. Therefore their voyages are Fourchon to Fourchon and 0 miles long.


These are the cfrs

1 is the foreign voyage, I.e. On register

2 is the interCoastal voyage through the Panama Canal

3 is an interstate voyage, but not to an adjacent state.

What do the controlling statutes say? Uscg formal interpretations of the cfrs? Case law? It could be that the USCG has a formal or informal policy not to enforce the interstate voyage cfr.

I’ve heard oldtimers talk about being on coastwise articles on deep sea ships. I’ve never seen coastwise Articles. Its rare that I’ve seen foreign articles on tugs.


That’s what the courts call an attempt to put “form over substance” . Laws are usually interpreted based upon the substance in light of purpose, reason and policy.

If the USCG is allowing the notion of zero mile voyages from Fouchon to a rig 200 miles awash and back to Fouchon only being zero miles, they are putting form over substance and violating the law. I cannot believe that would hold up in court for a minute.


It might be a misinterpretation of the wording of the definition. It did definitely say that offshore rigs don’t count as a destination though.

I used to work a rig about as far away from Fourchon as possible, so deep in Keathly Canyon we were almost in Mexican waters. It was a 22 hour run one way from the jetties yet still easily under 600 miles from C-Port to C-Port.


Logically, the intent of the Reg would be that a trip from a land port to a rig is not voyage, but rather one half of a voyage, because a rig is not a port. A voyage begins in a port and ends in a port. So, a voyage is one round trip out to the rig and back. That’s the only interpretation that makes sense. The round trip voyage is the distance out and back.

If the distance is under 600 miles two watches are required, but if over 600 miles three watches are required

It’s noteworthy that the CFRs require three watches on a tugboat voyage over 600 miles, but a statute specifically allows only two watches (at least for the officers) on a tugboat. So two watches is what most tugs have regardless of distance.

When a statute passed by Congress and a regulation adopted by a government agency conflict, the statute controls.


That’s probably exactly what the reg was trying to state and I was too literal in my reading of it. (I can’t find it now to verify the exact wording though.)

What statute are you thinking of?

I know the USCG doesn’t agree with that since I’m aware of at least one time they specifically required the company to use three watches as the voyage would be over 600 miles.


Could they be exempt because signing Articles requires ability to read and write??
(Sorry, could resist)


FFS, why throw shit when you just sign a truce.


The law is seldom black or white that can be read literally; it’s many shades of gray that require reading between the lines, and in the proper context. For more on how to interpret statutes, and regulations, see Sutherland, Statutes and Statutory Construction (a multi-volume treatises).

As with many things in the law, the answer often begins with "it depends . . . "

For the statute controlling the Two Watch System, see generally, 46 USC 8104. For tugs in particular, see 8104(h).

An exception is vessels to which the Officers Competency Act applies. My recollection is, I did not research this, is that means tugs tugs OVER 200 GRT on a voyage over 600 miles require a three watch system.

For the USCG interpretation of 46 USC 8104(h) see Marine Safety Manual Volume III, Part B, Chapter 5, B5-5 Watchkeeping, (b) Two Watch System.

This Subsection also gives the USCG interpretation of the length of a voyage: “a voyage of less than 600 miles has been construed as meaning the ENTIRE DISTANCE TRAVERSED (emphasis added) in proceeding from the intital port of destination [sic] [they meant departure], stops at intermediate ports while enroute do not break the continuity of the voyage . . .” To the port of destination.

This subsection also discusses the term PORT: “a port does not include a Outer Continential Shelf facility . . .”


I don’t think so. Section 8104(h) only sets a legal maximum number of hours worked on tugs (12), section 8104(g) allows tugs and OSVs to work 2 watches on voyages under 600 miles and I don’t see any other stipulations.

(1) On a towing vessel, an offshore supply vessel, or a barge to which this section applies, that is engaged on a voyage of less than 600 miles, the licensed individuals and crewmembers may be divided, when at sea, into at least 2 watches.


12 hours a day is a two watch system. You are trying to read it too literally again. Take another look at MSM, Vol. III, Part B, Chapter 5 Manning, B5-5 Watchkeeping, (b) Two Watch Systems, on Page B5-4. That’s how 8104 is interpreted in practice by the USCG. And it’s what the tug owners do.

I wish the USCG would require three watches, but they don’t, and they can’t, because of section 8104

That’s why tugs under 200 GRT can, and routinely do, operate on voyages over 600 miles with only 4 or 5 men in the crew. Every voyage to Alaska is 600 miles one way, before you even get into a 1200 mile plus round trip voyage. Most boats are 5 man boats. Some companies only run with 4 men. A few companies with 6 men. The USCG comes aboard but never questions it.

The union companies like Foss, Crowley, Dunlap are 6 men, but that is based upon the union agreement. Those companies also have a few boats over 200 GRT.

Tugs OVER 200 GRT on a voyage over 600 miles do require three watches because another law also applies. As I recall, its the Officers Competency Act (of 1935?) which implements an international treaty, SOLAS?

Another law (can’t remember which one) requires licensed engineers on tugs over 300 GRT, that’s why there is only a handful of US tugs over 300 GRT.


I don’t follow. A law saying it’s illegal for deck officers on tugs to work more than 12 hours somehow equals blanket permission to work a two watch system regardless of the length of the voyage? So then the STCW rest hours law that says the maximum you can work in a day (excluding emergencies) is 14 hours allows everyone, worldwide, to work two watches?

So does probably every sailing mariner.

I think it’s really that the actual inspectors don’t know what they’re doing. I bet if a tug running two watches on a long voyage has an incident the company will be hit for it just like Chouest was with the Aiviq.

I quoted the relevant part of section 8104 for you above. What part of that prevents the USCG from enforcing a 3 watch rule? There’s no tonnage loophole allowing tugs or OSVs under a certain tonnage to be exempt from the 600 nm voyage limit.

ALL tugs of ANY tonnage are already required to have three watches on cottages greater than 600 nm because of 46 USC 8104(g).


Why argue over watch systems we should all know what the CFR’s and SOLAS regulations state. How they are applied is quite different and that’s not going to change any time soon.

To the original poster on the abandoned vessel I feel for your crew good luck you’re going to need deep pockets or an advocate group i’m afraid.

Here’s something to discuss when the watch system discussion runs its course minimum safe manning of USCG documented vessels. I want to know how its safe to man a new large AHTS or OSV with 6 persons for shelf work and any other use requires double the crew. How is shelf work less demanding the systems don’t change am i missing something?


Yes, you’re missing the definition of “minimum safe manning”. All it means is the minimum number of crew required to safely get underway, go somewhere safely, and dock safely. The manning certificate doesn’t take into account the number required to actually perform work onboard other than safe navigation and mooring ops.


Thanks Miek.
We’ll see what happens on the 20th.
That’s when the next payroll is due.
It’s a coin toss as to whether they will make it or not.
I’m not overly optimistic at this point.